Thursday, September 15, 2005

controversial Charter Change lobbying contract with US firm

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release September 14, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Chief of Staff
cp number 09213907362

Solon demands investigations into controversial Charter Change lobbying contract with US firm; says contract should be dissolved

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that it was a national shame and scandal that the Macapagal-Arroyo administration was seeking financial assistance for Charter Change. Beltran said that the agreement signed by National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales on behalf of the Philippine government retaining retain the services of an American law firm to lobby for charter change in the U.S. government should be immediately investigated by Congress.

The contract was signed by Gonzales Jr. on July 25, the same day that Mrs. Arroyo delivered her State of the Nation Address and announced that "it is time to start the great debate on charter change. The contract and other disclosure documents filed with the U.S. Department of Justice are by Venable LLP, the U.S. law firm that will get paid $75,000 per month plus expenses for one year. Beltran said that he is filing a resolution(Click here to download) calling for investigations into the contract and its immediate dissolution.

“The briefest description of the contract and its content already expose how pathetic the Arroyo government is in its desperation to secure foreign support for Charter change,” he said. “Is this why the Filipino people is being forced to pay more regressive taxes such as the EVAT? So we can pay foreign lobbying firms to push anti-people, anti-national agendas of the Philippine government abroad?”

“The Macapagal-Arroyo government is squandering millions of pesos to lobby the American government for its support for Charter Change. What does this imply for the country’s political and economic independence, the fact that our government is begging for American support for what is an internal issue affecting sovereignty?,” he asked. “This is what Congress should busy itself with – investigating the various anomalous and previously secret contracts the Macapagal-Arroyo government keeps signing with foreign governments. Considering that the national interest and the country’s immediate future is what we’re dealing with in the Charter Change issue, the Arroyo administration is acting without consulting the Filipino people on the matter.”

Beltran said that this latest expose affirms speculations that Mrs. Arroyo’s trip to New York was a mission of desperation as she will use the opportunity to seek the support of the United States government led by George W. Bush for her floundering administration.

The veteran labor leader turned lawmaker said that Mrs. Arroyo is most likely to approach US Pres. Bush to seek his word that he and his government will continue to stand by her administration. “There’ll be bargaining and haggling here, I bet. The US wants the Philippine government to impose an anti-terrorism law and to remove all remaining barriers to free trade and investment, thus giving foreign corporations full right to plunder Philippine resources. The new tax measures have already been railroaded and are poised for implementation upon the pressure of foreign creditors. Mrs. Arroyo will most likely issue more promises on the anti-terror bill and the complete lifting of tariffs on imported products as well the limit on foreign ownership of vital national industries. The Arroyo government has already shelled out millions for lobbying efforts on behalf of its Cha cha agenda,” he said.#


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